Care about human rights more than you care about Iran’s nuclear ambitions
I was recently in Sweden for the launch of my memoir, The Gaze of the Gazelle, called 47 Sekunder: En berättelse om Irans förlorade generation in Swedish. There, among the warm hospitality of the Swedish publisher and the encouraging and welcoming approach of the Swedish media, I was asked the same two questions over and over again: What do you think about the Iranian nuclear programme, and, what the world can do to help Iranians?
I did give them my answer then, and since I have come back from Sweden, the second question haunts me. I cannot talk on behalf of all the Iranians [isn’t that what dictators usually do?] I can only talk for myself, but as an Iranian, one of the millions who poured into streets in June 2009 to call for change, one of those who likes to believe that we had something to do with the start of the Arab spring, a part of the generation that lost its youth and joy, but kept nourishing its dreams, growing up under a totalitarian regime, spending its best years in the Iran-Iraq war, but surviving to tell the story.
The world is seriously concerns about the alleged Nuclear ambitions of Iran, but has stopped caring about the human rights situation: Today, hundreds of Iranian writers, activists, reporters, bloggers and other prisoners of conscience are rotting the Iranian prisons; women and minority rights have never been undermined as much as today, fear has overwhelmed the society, all the attempts to express the widespread dissent among the Iranians have been brutally suppressed by the totalitarian regime, another generation is being burnt.
And all the world cares about is the nuclear ambitions of Iran, of which no hard evidence is available. For this, the nation, the very people who stood up against the abuse in Iran in 2009, are being punished by embargoes against the Iranian oil and banks, which is destroying the Iranian economical infrastructure, taking away the livelihood of people, and putting families under strict pressure. On the other hand, they have to face constant threats against their security, and deal winner constant fear that Israel or the NATO could invade Iran any day.
What hope have they got to cling on to? They are being punished by everyone: their basic rights are being abused by the Iranian regime, their livelihood is being compromised by the international sanctions, and their safety and security is being threatened by the international community. The world is not listening to their pain, and their own government is punishing them for expressing it.
If the world does not care about their livelihood, their freedom, and their safety, the Iranians will stop caring about the international security. These are dangerous and uncharted waters. The question lurking in our minds is: What will happen if tomorrow the Islamic Republic of Iran announces that they have voluntarily stopped their uranium enrichment, and the observers are welcome to visit any facility they wish in Iran? The Islamic Republic becomes friend to the West again, the world won’t need to worry about the nuclear threat anymore, and would turn to their own issues. But what will happen to the prisoners of conscience on the death row? What will come out of the porters who are rotting in prisons and the persecuted families? What about those bloods that were she’d in a cry for freedom and democracy?That’s not going to be a concern for the old anymore, would it?
Focus on the human rights abuse in Iran and other countries. The Iranian regime should be held accountable for its crimes against its own people. Could you ever trust a regime that opens fire on its own people?
Probably it’s time for the UN to assume a new role. It’s not the nuclear ambitions of a country that can threaten international security, it’s the human rights abuse in any given country that undermines international peace.